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UCSB psychology professors study gene-culture interaction
Date:11/8/2011

sensitive by examining people in different cultural environments," Kim explained. "If they are more sensitive to their environments, then they should behave in a more culturally consistent way. If I'm an emotionally sensitive person, when I look around my environment and the cultural norms say 'this' is the appropriate way to be, I'm more likely to be that way." Likewise, the person who does not have the gene for that trait would be less likely to adhere to cultural norms.

"One of the oldest questions in psychology is how people are affected by nature and nurture," said Sherman. "Everyone agrees that people are impacted by both, but the gene/culture interaction framework begins to specify how that happens by accounting for cultural variability as well. Depending on an individual's cultural context, the same genotype can lead to very different phenotypes."

The current study examines emotion regulation strategies. Prior research identified that emotional suppression is more common in Asian cultures than in American culture people tend to suppress their emotions more in Asia and are less disturbed by doing so. Korean and American participants completed assessments of emotion regulation and were genotyped for OXTR. Among Koreans, those with the GG genotype (the more environmentally sensitive people) reported using emotional suppression more than those with the AA genotype, whereas Americans showed the opposite pattern.

"In terms of gene-culture interactions, our research team has now found results in three different areas of psychology emotion regulation, interpersonal interaction in terms of social support seeking, and cognitive style," said Sherman. "Each time, the genotype led to different psychological outcomes as a function of culture."

Noted Kim: "One of the goals of the research in terms of educating the public is that when thinking about genes, it's important to avoid simplistic genetic essentialist thinking. The impact of g
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Contact: Andrea Estrada
805-893-4620
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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